Monday, December 10, 2007

Blessings and Burdens of Motherhood

I couldn't figure out why a level of frustration and despair had risen to a new level in our home recently. Was I losing my mind? Were the kids really that bad? Was I becoming the parent I never wanted to be? What was happening in the life I had always dreamed of having and actually had? Why wasn't motherhood manifested in more blessings than burdens? Why was I so weary?

These honest questions were on my mind as I woke up early one Monday morning. I determined to make this week better than the week previously had been.

So. I forsook my bed. I forsook the phone. I forsook the computer. I forsook all my preconceived plans and determined to just do what needed to be done to keep peace in my home. I forsook everything that, you know, busy mothers really shouldn't do when they have small children.

And then Janae got up. That was fine until the baby got up. Even that was fine until Landon got up. And then disaster struck.

Just so you know, I have a confession to make. I had taken a short shower. I know. That was bad and selfish of me. But, I guess I really just thought it was a good idea at the time. For a brief 10 minutes, I splurged in warm, clean water. I don't mean to be defensive or anything but while I was in the shower, I really tried not to be too selfish. I had Janae come in the bathroom and play on the floor with her toys. Landon wasn't yet up and the baby was secure in his swing. So, it should've been alright, right?

It wasn't. It was as if the walls of this house heard the shower as their cue and said, "Look at that girl run off to the bathroom like that! Let's get her before she has too much fun." That short shower was the only extra thing I did. Seriously. I had poured a cup of coffee earlier and didn't get to even sip it until 2 hours later.

At the dusk of my destructive shower, Alex began crying for his second breakfast and for his diaper to be changed. Landon woke up bawling because his groin area hurt from a fall he had sustained the night before in the bathroom while using the toilet. (don't ask... I have no idea how it happened.) Janae decided that right then was a good time to throw a fit.

I wasn't even dry let alone dressed yet. Who do I help first?

As I groped around for my clothes (read, house coat), I began to fill the tub for Landon to have a warm bath in hopes that would soothe his soreness. Janae wanted a bath too. Alex's diaper was oozing into the new outfit he had on. Landon didn't want a bath and declared that thoroughly through his tears. Janae wanted to watch Landon take a bath (read, get wet playing in water) and declared that thoroughly through tears. Alex needed his diaper changed and was starving and declared that thoroughly through tears.

Where do I start?

I quickly pulled my clothes on, stepping into my underwear while walking out the room. Couldn't waste anytime, you know. Nothing like killing two birds with one stone.

I finished the tub and got the boy in.

I changed Alex's diaper.

I washed the poopy clothes out in the bathroom sink.

I listened to Alex screaming in our room.

I listened to Janae throwing a fit because she couldn't have a bath.

I secured Janae in her room.

I found the baby and started to feed him.

For a few seconds, no body was crying! I couldn't believe it.

Meanwhile, the kitchen was a mess with dirty dishes stacked from the day before. I couldn't start breakfast until they were put in the dish washer. I couldn't put the dirty dishes in the dish washer until the clean dishes were unloaded from the dish washer and put away. And I couldn't do that until the baby was fed.

So, to all you people out there who think that motherhood is only baby lotion, cuddles and kisses and at it's worst, a few poopy diapers, I am sorry to burst into your dream and be the first to admit that it's actually a little different than that. If you don't understand, that's fine. Not even spellchecker knows about poopy diapers but "poopy" really is a word. Just so you know, I love being a mom. But, I am learning that loving it is a lot different than I thought it would be. I love things that I never even knew existed.

Like the joy of coming out to the kitchen and letting Janae empty the dish washer. She has so much fun that I have to stop her when it's empty; she'd reload and re-stack all day if I let her. Or the joy of kissing my little boy goodnight and having him ask me to stay in his room for a little bit so we can talk about the moon some more. Or, even the joy of getting up in the middle of the night to get a baby from his swing and tuck him in bed with me so he can nurse.

It did me good this morning to realize that having 3 little people living with me, all under my care and all age 3 and under is like living 3 lives at once. Plus living my life too. It just takes a lot of work and concentration. It's hard to think of everything that I must do in a day, let alone everything a 2 year old will try to get done. I am the kind of person that hates leaving things undone so it's hard to let one thing go just because I'm too busy to finish it. No wonder why I feel so weary.

A good friend asked me recently if I feel like I babysit all day long. Actually, I don't. I feel like I save lives all day long. I'm a Lifesaver, not a Babysitter. I couldn't count how many times I've walked in on somebody on the brink of killing themselves (unintentionally) or finding someone just seconds away from permanently brain damaging their brother.

And then there's the laundry that perpetually threatens to grow mold and mildew. Or the dishwasher that always needs to be emptied/loaded/emptied/etc. Or the dining room floor that must literally grow spots on the carpet. (carpeted dining rooms should be illegal). Or the sheets that always get peed on the morning after they were changed. Or the toilet that never-endingly needs to be cleaned. Or the meals that are almost forgotten to be made. Or.... you get my point.

I don't want to sound like I have answers or anything because I don't have any. The only thing I can conclude right now is that I need to sign off here and put my baby to bed before he starts bursting windows from the decibel of his voice. He was sitting here fine until I got to the end of that last paragraph. That's how mother hood is though... it never stays the same. As soon as you think you have the answers, it throws you for a loop.

Like just now, the baby got quiet and so did Janae. I caught her just in time before she bit the baby's toes. Just for the fun of it. She wasn't mad or anything. I guess his toes just looked too good to not eat.

For me, the hardest thing about motherhood is realizing the challenge that the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world. I'm rocking 3 cradles right now... what will this world come to?


bonnie said...

And career women say that being a stay at home mom is not really a job!! Well its probably the most important job in the world and thats why homeshool moms amaze me and are heros in my sight!!!! I think your doing great courtney, one day your kids will thank you. god bless!!

Anonymous said...

Even though the problems seem to outweigh the blessings right now - the catastrophes will fade as time passes and the gift of mothering will manifest itself more clearly. (Especially as diapers become less necessary!) A Faithful Reader

Jean said...

In some where around 25 to 30 years from now all these frustrations will become of little significance or totally forgotten.

Keep up the good work.

remember "All things are possible wth God."

Mama said...

You have no idea how good it was to read this right now. I just posted about my frustrations on my blog. And what's even more encouraging is to hear this from someone who has less than half the number of children than me:) Now I truly know I'm not the only one on the planet that feels like this...even moms with less children feel this way from time to time!! I'll link to this post if you don't mind!??
oh and if you wanna get to my blog follow the link from blogger. I'm currently at xanga.

Life with Littles said...

I can definitely relate to days like this. Believe me it does start to get easier. My kids are 6,4,2 and 3 months.

I would say that the most difficult time was when the oldest was only 3 (we hadn't even had the third yet).

It takes many days like this one to make a good mom. You learn to trust the Lord each waking moment and you learn to give up more and more of yourself each day.

Hang in there and keep looking for those blessings.

Anonymous said...

I remember one of the most significant lessons I ever learned in motherhood so far... and who taught it to me? My husband. When our first baby was born, she was a fussy one who did not ever want to be put down, and woke up the second I did. Even as a newborn, she never slept more than three hours, tops. I was exhausted and absolutely miserable and resenting our baby. He told me I had to give in to it. To submit to it. I had to accept giving myself to this baby.

This was no easy thing. But by the time our second baby was given I had learned not to mind waking up so often. And after a while I even enjoyed it. I am so used to waking up that I can actually wake up and feel love and compassion for the offending child. People might think I'm crazy, but I enjoy changing diapers, too.

This lession is still being applied in other areas. Today I am trying to learn to give all my time and my days to my family (to stop seeking distraction in hobbies or on the computer...). And although I don't quite believe it now, I am sure I will find that I will NOT die or disappear or never have time for myself again... just like I still usually get enough sleep, even though I once thought I would never see sleep again. It's hard now, but I think that someday, I will love it as much as I love the other things that I once couldn't even imagine loving. And I KNOW I will love it for real. And probably when that time comes, I won't care so much about having time for myself, anyway. That's sort of how it has happened for me.

I look forward to learning this lesson again. Please pray for me, anyone, if you feel moved to do so. I need help to get there. I want to allow the Lord to use me to bear good fruit. No labor will be in vain. And then that will be my joy.

I wish everyone reading this the best of blessings in your mothering days. You have encouraged me, too. Thanks.


Anonymous said...

I just wanted to apologize if the comment I wrote above was too long and preachy. I think I came off sounding like I already "made it" or something. That is FAR from the truth. If I could write it again, I would do it differently. I am really sorry about that. And again, thank you for what you wrote, Court. It helped me through a hard day.


Anonymous said...

I can say is, I TOTALLY relate. But, I promise you will feel some better when you're able to get more sleep. And I'll always envision your house as the nice, warm, cozy oasis you opened to us last Christmas. :)

Coeur d'Court said...

To all my readers...

Just want to say how much I am encouraged by your comments. The advice from Jean to look down the road 25 years from now is an important reminder. I think I'll give anything for these hectic days then when my kids are grown and gone. Helps to keep things in perspective.

Krista, I didn't think your comment was any thing close to preachy or like you had arrived! The apology is accepted (if it helps you feel better) but please know it is not necessary. I appreciated your honesty and sharing what you've learned. I didn't think you were out of line at all!

Des... you are too sweet! I wish our house would always be that warm cozy oasis!! But, alas, we live in our house and sometimes, well, it's just not something you'd pay to see. :) I need to work better on organization.... Anyway, just wanted to thank you for the sweet comment.

All you other commenters, thanks so much for what you said. My apologies for not responding sooner. We've had sickness in our home and a lot of other things going on as well. Just want you all to know I appreciated your comments and encouragement!

God's blessings to you all!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Court. That made me feel better. :)